Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba’s They Shot the Piano Player is being released in the United States.  The film is part documentary, part fiction, and part best guess.  The storyline is about an author, Jeff Harris, who is going to Argentina to write a piece on the Bossa Nova.  While preparing for the trip, he comes across a piece of music with Francisco Tenorio Junior playing the piano.  Upon further research, he discovered Tenorio vanished in 1976 while on tour in Buenos Aires.  Harris changes his focus to learn what happened to this talented man.  

Tenorio did exist, and he did disappear.  Much of the film includes over 150 interviews with friends, family, and bandmates.  Trueba conducted these interviews, some of which will delight bossa nova fans. (João Donato, João Gilberto, and Vinicius de Moraes to name three.)

Jazz aficionado Jeff Goldblum is the voice of Jeff Harris, the fictional author.  This created a mixed response for me.  With such an identifiable voice, my brain had me looking for him on the screen.  The only similarities between the characters drawn and Goldblum are gender and the fact that they have the same hair color.  I appreciate his choice of being cast and included in this film.  His passion for jazz music shines through.   

This fully animated film’s style and colors fit the 1970s, and the artistic choices and music blend well.  I am unsure if it was the sometimes-jolting movement on the screen or the multiple languages; something triggered a bit of vertigo, which made reading the subtitles a bit of a challenge.  

I appreciate the quality of this film and the passion behind the project; it will not be a re-watch for me. Although I am not the target audience, I hope that bossa nova fans will take the time to see this film.


Director: Javier Mariscal, Fernando Trueba

Written By: Fernando Trueba

Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Tony Ramos, Abel Ayala

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for smoking and some violence.

Genres: Animation, Drama, History

Selig Rating: 3 stars

Runtime: 1h 43m

U.S. Release Date: March 29, 2024

Languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese

Trailer: They Shot the Piano Player trailer

Website: The Shot the Piano Player website


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.

4 Stars – Good movie/show

3 Stars – OK movie/show

2 Stars – Well, there was nothing else…

1 Star – Total waste of time.

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